By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
With the Central A Divisional cross country meet looming, the Havre High girls cross country team was served notice that to win the divisional title, it might not be a walk, or in this case, a jog in the park.
The Ponies held off a motivated Lewistown Eagles squad to capture the Havre Invitational by just a single point Saturday at the Montana State University-Northern campus.
Havre took first-place honors scoring 43 points with Eagles on its heels, scoring 44 points.
"This was a good eye-opener for our team," said head coach Kim Ray. "We told them that Lewistown was close to being as good as us, now we know how close they are."
The Eagles top two runners, Sonya Rogers and Candice Rodriquez, finished ninth and 10th respectively, beating Havre's top two runners for the first time this season.
The trio of Mandi Nystrom, McKayla Patterson and Amy McLain finished 11th, 12th and 13th, but it was the effort of Shannon Newth that clinched the team win for Havre.
Newth staved off a pair of Lewistown runners, Kristen Mantooth and Katie Kohler, at the end, finishing just ahead of them and securing a Pony victory.
"Shannon Newth ran her best race of the year," Ray said. "The two Lewistown runners she held off at the end she has never beaten before. It's going to give her confidence. It was the first time she crossed the finish line and been satisfied."
Kelsey Malsam rounded out the Havre scoring, finishing in 20th place with Kristine Keltgen in 26th and Kim Jestrab in 44th.
While the outcome of the race was close, Ray will gladly take it.
"You take a win however you can get it," Ray said.
Still, Ray knows full well that the attitude of her team needs to change, especially since this week's divisional meet is being held in Lewistown.
"Lewistown ran to win the race," Ray said. "We ran to run good times and we did that, but we didn't run to dominate. It was a wake-up call for our runners. We ran too conservative and this should make us more aggressive for our next two races."
The girls race was won by Browning standout Wasewi Shawl with a blazing time of 19:26. It was by far one of the fastest times ever ran on the course and one of the faster races Shawl has run this season.
"Having the Canadian schools (Moose Jaw and Wetaskiwin High Schools) here really raised the level of competition," Ray said. "They had some strong runners who really pushed Wasewi. She ran a fantastic time and that's even after stopping for a few second because she didn't know where to go."
On the boys side, the Havre High boys cross country club finished in sixth place, but did place a pair of runners in the top 10.
Seniors Kasey Barsotti and Jeff Sprinkle both garnered top 10 finishes to lead the Havre boys.
Barsotti ran a solid time of 17:00 to finish third, while Sprinkle ran a 17:14 to finish in sixth place. Barsotti maintained his third place position throughout the race and held off Browning's Terran Guardipee and Carl Trombley and Sprinkle at the end.
"I was really pleased with Kasey and Jeff's performance," said head coach Ron Watson. "The course is demanding ... with the hills and tight turns, the course doesn't allow for a whole lot of speed and taxes the runner physically and mentally."
Cody McLean and Marcus Campbell finished in 34th and 35th place respectively, just one second apart. Will Long rounded out the Havre scoring finishing in 50th place with a 21:06. Jeff Hedstrom ran a 22:07 and Clay Nottingham ran a 23:46 for Havre.
Shelby's Daniel Bridge won the boys race with a blazing time of 16:21.4 with Matt Neff of Moose Jaw in second with a 16:30. Browning the team title with 47 points.
Barsotti was back in action on Monday at the Shelby Invitational, finishing in second place with a 16:22, as Bridge won the race with a 16:08. Barsotti did beat Central A rival Ryan Running Crane of Browning, passing him in the last 600 meters of the race.
Team scores - Browning 47, Moose Jaw 68, Cut Bank 93, Dodson 103, Shelby 109, Havre 122, Heart Butte 135, Centerville 206.
1. Daniel Bridge, Shelby, 16:21.4; 2. Matt Neff, Moose Jaw, 16:30.3; 3, Kasey Barsotti, Havre, 17:00.3; 4. Terran Guardipee, Browning, 17:10.2; 5. Carl Trombley, Browning, 17:11.9; 6. Jeff Sprinkle, Havre, 17:14.2; 7. Scott Mitchell, Moose Jaw, 17:24; 8. E.J. Aimsback, Heart Butte, 17:29.1; 9. Marlin Black Wolf, Browning, 17:33.2; 10. Josh Chow, Moose Jaw, 17:34.3.
Havre runners - 3. Kasey Barsotti 17:00; 6. Jeff Sprinkle 17:14; 34. Cody McLean 19:04; 35. Marcus Campbell 19:22; 50. Will Long 21:06; 53. Jeff Hedstrom 22:07; 57. Clay Nottingham 23:46.
Team scores - Havre 43, Lewistown 44, Browning 93, Cut Bank 101, Cascade 104, Dodson 149, Matla 176.
1. Wasewi Shawl, Browning, 19:26.3; 2. Trisha Dayle, Moose Jaw, 19:53.6; 3. Janette Williamson, Wetaskiwin, 20:08.6; 4. Samantha Rogers, Moose Jaw, 20:16.9; 5. Sydney Best, Centerville, 20:26.1; 6. Nadine Mann, Cascade, 20:26.5; 7. Kailey Smith, Moose Jaw, 20:27.1; 8. Kallie Olds, Cascade, 20:36.7; 9. Sonya Rogers, Lewistown, 20:39.1; 10. Candice Rodriguez, Lewistown, 20:39.3.
Havre runners - 11. Mandi Nystrom 20:50; 12. McKayla Patterson 20:52; 13. Amy McLain 20:54; 15. Shannon Newth 21:11; 20. Kelsey Malsam 22:02; 26. Kristine Keltgen 22:29; 44. Kim Jestrab 24:22.